The Un-y-moon – Part I
Since I last published this post almost a year ago, I was concerned that the players involved might somehow stumble upon it and be furious. But I have relaxed a bit about this since my husband, Geoffrey never reads this blog, and I have kept to an absolute minimum any digital photographs of any of us with the exception of my husband whose picture does appear in a handful of posts. I have just calmed down and slowly incarnated into blogging about them candidly again, using my maiden name and my real life nickname (they know me by married last name, and Geoffrey has always called me Veronica because he grew up loving Archie comics and Veronica is my middle name — you following all this? Beth Byrnes is the last name they will think of, thank heaven).
So, I had made this post private, but decided that I will continue this ridiculous saga about my marriages (G and I were married twice on the same day as you will read below), receptions (ooooooh yes, I was forced to have a second “socially correct” post-nuptials party back in California when we returned from the first un-y-moon) and well, un-y-moons. I had two of each. Here is the first in a five-part series then: three published previously, with updates and two new ones. I will probably not torture you with all of them in a row, but intersperse them with other posts, including the report on my recent guests (leaving as we speak).
Oh, and all the members of The in-Firm (my in-laws) are just hours away from stepping aboard a plane to be whisked off on this year’s family vacation, which Geoffrey and I excluded ourselves from for the reasons I already disclosed in a post late in the spring. So, here we go again, and, well, Mahalo!
My early adult life may be of limited interest other than to offer an insight into my psyche (at least in earlier days) and the way things often work out. I suspect all of us have anecdotes just like this one in some way or another.
Every one of my close friends got married the summer after we graduated from college, usually right before they took the requisite ‘grand tour’ of Europe, which often doubled as their honeymoon.
Being an iconoclast, I went straight to graduate school after my trip (which was hilarious, grist for an upcoming post). In fact, I had planned to switch careers from special ed to psychology at the last minute and so my application was late. I made an appointment to see the head of the department and literally there and then talked that man into letting me into the program, a few days before classes started. I will always be grateful to him for taking a chance on me because, as someone later disclosed, I didn’t look like I was serious enough for the career (more on that another time).
So, I did not get married for several years. Now, here was the horns of a dilemma (to be trite). I did not want the usual bride-on-the-dais/everyone-drunk-and-dancing-on-tabletop spectacle that all my friends had. I had been a bridesmaid and had a very clear idea of what those things were like. So, I purposely planned a very small wedding out of town. My family and family-in-law are Roman Catholic, from New York and Los Angeles respectively, so naturally I picked an Episcopalian church in Philadelphia.
To say that everyone in every branch of the extended family were miffed, is to put it mildly. I have cousins who to this day will not speak to me because I did not invite them to my wedding, when they had invited me to theirs. There were college girlfriends who were mad that they didn’t get to be bridesmaids, since they had asked me to be a bridesmaid (which I frequently turned down). And, natch, I alienated the entire family of in-laws who gave their own daughter an epic wedding to end all weddings, truly, blowing the wad on it. Now I was perceived as being the poor relation because our ‘reception’ was in a small Italian restaurant and only had a plain cheesecake to cap it off.
We further scandalized everyone by not giving out wedding albums, even though we had a wedding photographer. We just made one album for ourselves. Whenever I need a good laugh, I get that album out and it works every single time. The pictures show the bride looking dubious, the groom with an oh-sh*t grimace the whole time and all of us shivering in dated outfits. In fact, I almost didn’t wear “white” at all because it was the dead of winter and there was a few feet of snow on the ground all over the city. But I caved, lest anything else imply to the elders on both sides that my virtue was as questionable as my finances. So, I bought an ‘ecru and shell’ (so I was told) cocktail dress right off a sale rack two days before I took the train to Pennsylvania.
OK, so the ceremony itself went off fairly well. We had finally talked the minister into marrying us, even though we weren’t Episcopalians. The local archdiocese of the Catholic Church refused to allow a priest to be there too, which would have made the elders on both sides feel better. In fact, my husband’s grandmother had already decided we were not married, so we had to plan a second ceremony later that day in the hotel with a family priest from New Jersey invited for the occasion. That alone could be the subject of a dissertation. One of my husband’s brothers was a religious scholar and he actually made the hosts out of bread in the hotel kitchen.
The days before and after the event were emotional cauldrons. Apparently weddings bring up everyone else’s couple-karma. Shortly after we were all comfortably ensconced in one of the nicest hotels in Philadelphia — very Main Line stuffy — one of the ‘adult’ members of my husband’s family got very drunk and apparently started an altercation. This led to my MIL virtually falling apart and coming to my husband-to-be on dress rehearsal eve, hysterical so he had to spend the entire night walking her back from the brink. During that same night, the priestly brother-in-law, only 18 at the time, actually slugged the drunk relative thus seriously upsetting other hotel guests who heard this ongoing fracas and complained to the hotel.
The wedding photos show the drunk relative with a black eye, and the BIL with a cast on his hand. Yes. This was my wedding. And it went on like this.
So mentally overwrought was everyone, that at the wedding breakfast my new husband spent most of his time ministering to members of the wedding party. I was appalled but thankful that it wasn’t someone from my side! Subsequent events unfolded from this problematic theme. Some of the gifts that we were given were lost in transit after we left the hotel; on the way out the door, another hotel patron stepped on my suitcase and crushed it; I hadn’t noticed in time, but my satin shoes were irreparably damaged by the salt the city threw down on the sidewalks to melt the snow outside the hotel; my mother had my wedding dress preserved with the usual blue tissue and sealed in plastic but overlooked telling them to make it see-through, so for twenty years I have had an opaque unwieldy but delicate box that I cannot open without destroying its preservative qualities; I forgot to take snow boots for the honeymoon in Vermont and ended up borrowing some that were one size too big for me, and let all the snow in after all; and the hotel Concierge presented my father-in-law with the bill instead of my father, aggravating my humiliation as the the shady pauper.
(To be continued…)
Uh-oh, I I tried to reblog this and think I may have messed it up, so if it appears twice in your Reader, my bad!